Weeknotes — 2019 12 20

Week 12 — the festive edition and last in the series…

Joys of Clapham Junction

Well I think I have done well by not mentioning the South West Train strike at all over the last couple of weeks. If anything it hasn’t been as bad as I was expecting, once you are resigned to the fact that it is going to be a mess. Half the numbers of trains, security at stations/platforms to manage the crowds, being shouted at to stand behind the yellow line due to crowds, having to wait at Clapham Junction for 30 minutes every morning, getting to work at least 20 mins later than normal every day… I only have 1 more days of this! Probably the thing that winds me up the most on this is as they have published a ‘temporary timetable’ you can’t claim delay repay from the normal timetable, just feels that is fundamentally wrong to me — having paid money for an expected service and not getting it for a month. Anyways…. Oh and I am about to get a annual season ticket for next year — really puts you in a good frame of mind to be doing that! Right, am done now….

This week

Whilst there has been some winding down for Christmas over the last week or so, and I have taken advantage of the opportunity to meet colleagues over a mince pie or cheese and biscuits, there has also been a lot of work this week on setting the scene for Digital in the New Year. This week I finalised the Cabinet Paper for the Digital Strategy timetable and next steps which was approved at CLT. Colleagues and I have also spent a lot of time working through how we are approaching service design across the Council as part of the #1Hounslow transformation programme, starting to bring threads together but I think it is safe to say that we have some further work to do on this.


Had a catch up account management meeting with Arqiva who manage the concessions that we have with them for street furniture for WiFi and small cell equipment. Really good to hear that the contract has been going well but certainly a number of opportunity areas that will link with elements of the emerging digital strategy.


Thanks to Paul who organises an annual Christmas cheese and biscuits gathering at Hounslow. I’m not sure I have ever been to a bring a chunk of cheese party… Was really good to see colleagues coming together for a chat over some goats cheese and Gouda… (as Paul says no place for mild Cheddar).


More festive merriment with the third floor of Hounslow house coming together for lunch. Again really nice to see everyone coming together to catch up…

Also was kindly invited to the Kingston Community Directorate Christmas do, which I agreed to go to before I know they were going to do an escape room! Evening started with some Gluehwein in Kingston market square, which was very very festive. Before going over to the escape room. Never done one before and not sure what to expect but was a great evening. I was the prisoner so spent the first ten minutes in a cage blindfolded… So a standard Wednesday evening….

We escaped….
Not sharing the other picture!

We escaped… But only just and with many many hints… Was also Stephen Evans leaving do so we went to a bar in Surbiton and joined by other Kingston colleagues and councillors. Was nice to catch up with the Leader and the Chief Exec, Ian delivered a very entertaining leaving speech. Stephen will be missed in Kingston, we achieved a lot of really good work across the Communities Directorate.

The end of the year gives you some time for reflection. Certainly been a year of many changes. I can’t actually believe we are approaching 2020. I remember a number of years ago when I was in Surrey, developing the Digital Strategy with a 2020 vision (well I thought it was good!), I wonder how much of what we were talking about and planning then has actually come to delivery!

The move to Hounslow has been a personal high for me this year, but not without it’s challenges, as with starting any new role. I was leaving a well established team, one that I could trust, and knew inside out and we were delivering lots of really good digital change across the Councils and had some excellent connections into the Community and the organisations were up for the Digital change that we were enabling with the various elements of the core infrastructure and digital platform that we were putting in place… It was hard leaving that to somewhere new and starting all over again, starting again with non 365 Microsoft and not Google as well which has been one of the hardest things to overcome.

In just three months at Hounslow we have really started to deliver and change the perception of the IT Team. We just completed a User Satisfaction Survey with SOCITM and had over 900 responses (about 40% of the Council) — which is excellent and the initial results were not bad (as expected!) — lots of areas to consider as part of our Digital Ambition in the new year. We have started co-design for the intranet; have a new password policy; an emerging strategy; started Pod Pop In’s; joined LOTI; have a plan for Digital design; undertaken IT staff and management conferences; been part of the corporate transformation programme; enabled a smooth delivery of an election; rolling out of new devices and windows 10 upgrade; sorted (ing) the budgets; upgraded technology; kept the lights on; raised our game with the Service Desk and much much more… I am very pleased with the initial discovery and progress, it is not surprising I am ready for a rest over Christmas, but very much looking forward to 2020 and everything that we are going to do for Hounslow communities!

Tune of the week and a festive one — The Pogues — Fairytale Of New York (Official Video)

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas, a relaxing break and a Happy New Year!

Director of Digital & IT for the London Borough of Hounslow